Great Books For Great Kids

Did you know that reading skills are the greatest single predictor of future academic success?* Yet, 16% of people in the Omaha area are functionally illiterate. This means they struggle getting through the day because they can’t read well enough to order from a menu, fill out a job application, or help their kids with homework.** Nationally, on average, children in middle-income neighborhoods have 13 books per child. In contrast, for low-income children there is an estimated 1 book for every 300 children.

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The Junior League of Omaha has never hesitated to step up and help out with what the community needs. Through its own community project, A Book of My Own (ABOMO), the Junior League of Omaha has been helping to promote literacy and provide books at home to under-served children ages 0-18. Throughout the year, new and gently-used books are collected and ABOMO partners with community organizations such as schools, churches, Heartland Family Service, and the Boys and Girls Club to distribute books to children in need. Since 2011, ABOMO has distributed over 80,000 books in the Omaha community and worked with more than 70 community partners.img_9793

Recently, the Junior League of Omaha partnered with Runza® Restaurants for the 14th annual Great Books for Great Kids fundraiser. The funds collected benefited the Junior League of Omaha’s A Book of My Own community project. The League’s Board of Directors and project committee members staffed each of the 15 Runza locations to provide members of the community more information about the Great Books for Great Kids event as well as general information about the league. The event was a great success again this year and more than $5,000 was raised for the community project. ABOMO plans on using the funds to purchase books for upcoming distributions.

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If you are looking to give back and want to contribute to the community project, here are a variety of ways that you can donate to ABOMO.

  1. Donate books. A Book of My Own needs new and gently-used books. Donation bins are located at the following locations:

Back and Neck Care Center, 2055 N. 156th Street, Omaha, NE

Ridgeview Animal Hospital, 18142 Wright Street, Omaha, NE

Walnut Creek Veterinary Clinic, 96th and HWY 370, Papillion, NE

Roots and Wings, Countryside Village, 8712 Pacific Street, Omaha, NE

Bare Body Shop, Rockbrook Village, 10811 Prairie Brook Road, Omaha, NE

You can also contact the Junior League of Omaha office at 402.493.8818 or book@jlomaha.org to schedule a drop-off appointment. If you donate gently-used books, we would appreciate books that are in saleable condition with no torn cover, ripped pages or chewed marks. Also, we do not distribute books that have been wet or have mold or mildew.

  1. Donate money. 100% of monetary donations are used to purchase new books for the project. Donations can be sent to the Junior League of Omaha office.
  2. Host a book drive. Plan and host a book drive at your school, church or office. Contact the Junior League of Omaha office at 402.493.8818 or book@jlomaha.org for further information.
  3. Volunteer. Volunteers are needed to sort and prepare books for distribution. Contact the Junior League of Omaha office at 402.493.8818 or book@jlomaha.org for volunteer opportunities.

Visit the Junior League of Omaha’s Facebook and Instagram page, or follow the #JLOmaha to see more of this successful event. Special thank you to the A Book of My Own committee members who make this project successful: Liz Akert, Katie Anderson, Megan Black, Becca Bode, Meghan Bothe, Anne Bowen, Sarah Carse, Kristyn Chapman, Beverly Gorman, Erica Goven, Miranda Griffiths, Sara Hanke, Becky Heckman, Elizabeth Jamrog, Jessica Kozel, Steffanie Luteran, Katie Martens, Meghan McClain, Erica McDonald, Maria Michaelis, Kristi Mitchell, Summer Nabity, Kimberly Nolan, Taylor Pugh, Nicole Seckman, Tina Spatz, Jessica Thompson, and Lisa Tonjes Moritz.

*National Assessment of Educational Progress

**Literacy Center of the Midlands

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JLO Summer Wrap-Up

In just a few days, the Junior League of Omaha will be kicking off its 98th year with the first General Membership Meeting. It has been a busy summer for our League filled with training sessions, committees kicking off their projects and fundraisers and meetings to gear up for the upcoming year.

Many of our members have already been hard at work throughout the summer donating their time to various projects. In July, many members volunteered at the Color Run during packet pick-up and on race day at water and color stations throughout the race course.

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Done-In-A-Day partnered with FITGirl, Inc. and provided volunteers for the FITGirl Empowerment Camp for girls ages 8-14. Junior League of Omaha members were assigned a group of girls and assisted them through activities during the day that included focusing on fitness, good eating choices and group team building activities.

Project shifts have also started with volunteers sorting books for A Book Of My Own and getting backpacks ready for distribution through Project Hope Pack. In addition to all of the volunteer opportunities for our Active Members, the League is also excited to welcome 92 New Members to our organization this year.

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Each year, the incoming President is tasked with choosing a theme for the League year. For 2016-2017, our President, Chaley Chandler, selected the theme of “Giving Back is Always in Style.” Giving back is just one part of the mission of The Junior League of Omaha and voluntarism has always been second nature to our members. All of our League Members share many different strengths that make make an impact on each other and our actions. Our members gain training and knowledge from both our General and Committee meetings, and also from each other. Supporting other League Members, learning from each other and giving back to one another are all of the keys we’ll need to have a successful year. Our mission and our relentless act of giving back to the community and to each other will always be in style! You’ll be seeing this year’s logo all year long to help serve as a reminder of the one goal we all are working towards.

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As fall rapidly approaches, there’s even more exciting things to look forward to beginning with Barn Bash on September 9th. There will be salsa and guacamole tasting, a nacho bar and BINGO! The League will also be hosting the American Girl Fashion Show Grand Finale on October 8th and 9th at Shadow Ridge Country Club. Please join other League Members as we commemorate the Fashion Show and how it has created shining stars out of both children and adults. Rounding out the season is the seventh annual Big Red Block Party on November 5th. Watch the Nebraska vs. Ohio State football game on multiple big screen TVs while enjoying tailgate-themed faire and the opportunity to bid on a wide variety of silent auction items. Finally, Our Cookbook Committee is also hard at work and needs your submissions. If you have any great recipes to share, please visit www.JLOCookbook.com.

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Cooking for a Crowd

Cooking for 20 can be tricky, but every month Junior League of Omaha Board of Directors take on the challenge of providing dinner for a monthly Board meeting. When it came time for New Member Chair Bethany Banister and Communications Chair Melissa Carlberg to take their turn, they were confident the Junior League’s Toast to Omaha cookbook would be the perfect resource – and would build excitement for the upcoming release of the League’s new cookbook, to be released in conjunction with our 100th anniversary in 2019.

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“We thought soup would be a crowd-pleaser, and also figured it’d be fairly easy to transport and keep warm,” says Melissa. “Bethany and I got together, picked out some recipes that looked delicious and started planning a couple weeks before the meeting.”

Melissa made the following soup recipes:

  • Curried Pumpkin Soup, page 49
  • Upsteam Brewing Company’s Smoked Gouda Beer Soup, page 59
  • Italian Vegetable soup, page 55

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For a side, Bethany chose Ron’s Wheatfield Cornbread, page 182, and for dessert, gave Very Rich Everything Bars, page 214, a try.

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“The cornbread was super easy,” says Bethany. “I do have a suggestion for the dessert, though. Use creamy peanut butter instead of crunchy for both the base and the fudge topping. I also used salted nuts, even though the recipe called for unsalted. It seemed to cut down the richness a little!”

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Final consensus? Everything was a hit! The sausage soup was nearly gone and the beer cheese soup reheated wonderfully.  

“The Italian vegetable soup was a fairly quick, easy recipe and you can even save some time by eliminating the chopping and buying frozen spinach and carrots,” says Melissa. “I’d definitely make it again. In fact, I’d make them all again. I especially liked the Upstream beer cheese soup. I used a cheddar to supplement the Gouda, simply because it was a bit more economical for a double batch.”

Both Bethany and Melissa agree that the dinner was a success; board members all tasted several Toast to Omaha recipes for the first time and everyone seemed excited to make them again! Hopefully, it got members thinking about what they can submit for the next Junior League of Omaha cookbook!

The Cookbook Committee is currently planning for the upcoming edition, A Century of Serving, and looks forward to hosting tasting parties beginning this summer to choose the entries for the anniversary cookbook. Be on the lookout for recipes you’d be interested in submitting – and if you’d like one of the special edition Junior League of Omaha aprons, orders will be available soon at jlomaha.org.

Tip the Fundraising Scale with TAGG by Guest Blogger Katy Spratte

The Junior League of Omaha supports this vibrant community through countless volunteer hours, amazing fundraisers, and women and child-focused projects and scholarships. As a first year active in the League, I am thrilled to be able to present a great new fundraising option for our membership. That opportunity is through a local start up, called Together A Greater Good (TAGG). TAGG is an app that empowers users to support local nonprofits just by visiting participating businesses. That’s right, visit a participating business, TAGG a purchase, and the business will donate 5 percent of your purchase to the cause of your choice.

During the first month of being live on TAGG, the Junior League of Omaha has already raised $16.79. Six active league members have TAGGed so far, and I’m really excited to see what our whole group can accomplish. Those who have TAGGed have done so at Blue Sushi, Plank Seafood & Provisions, Beansmith Coffee Roasters, Railcar Modern American Kitchen, Bliss Boutique, Newman’s Pasta Cafe, Everbloom Floral & Gift, and Smoothie King. There are about 130 local businesses that are participating partners in TAGG, and will donate to causes of your choice. Additionally, the first $1,000 raised each month through the app is automatically matched by the 88 Restaurant Group, so that 5 percent donation is actually 10 percent at the beginning go the month.

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 It’s easy to see how simply frequenting TAGG businesses, that many of us already visit, can really add up to major funds for a worthwhile organization. Please consider downloading “Together A Greater Good” app today, and choosing to support the Junior League of Omaha without spending an extra dime. TAGGing a purchase takes about 30 seconds, watch this video tutorial. Start TAGGing today!
–Katy Spratte
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Ladies Who bRUNch

The Junior League of Omaha is hosting a new fundraiser this year and planning committee members are passionate. This April, the League will host a 5K fun run that combines two events that League members just love: running and brunching. The concept is pretty simple, really: run 3.1 miles, eat brunch, support the League’s child-minded community projects. And everyone’s invited. We asked the committee members what keeps them running.

Lisa Tronchetti will tell you she is an indoor runner. She remembers doing a 5K before, but lately she hasn’t made it past the one mile mark. Even though her distance has shortened, she keeps plugging away, because she has motivation. “I run to stay healthy and prevent Type II Diabetes,” she says. “Type II Diabetes is common for women in my family as they grow older and my hope is that by living a healthy lifestyle NOW with a healthy diet and a regular exercise schedule that includes a little running, I will greatly delay or prevent any onset of Type II Diabetes in my own health,” Lisa says. When the Junior League of Omaha announced a 5K run this spring, Lisa saw an opportunity to volunteer and get back on a training regimen. “I’m in my favorite Athleta pants and listening to the second season of Serial while I train,” she says. 

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It took Stacey Sellers a little time to warm up to the idea of loving a run. “I started running in middle school when I started cheer and dance, but it wasn’t until I was in college that I actually started to enjoy it,” she says. “Living in Charleston, SC at the time, the scenery and weather were perfect; and running outside was a must!” Stacey runs for enjoyment, opting out of a music playlist, no formal training program and no set distances. There is one thing she does commit to, a lacrosse ball she uses to massage her muscles after good run. 

Colby Jensen prefers to run with a crew. “When I run with friends, we talk about our days, what’s new in our lives, etc. so no music is needed,” she says. Her friends and the training program she found with a quick Google search keep her focused when training for half marathons. “I train with friends to hold myself accountable and make the longer runs seem easier,” she says. But when no one is around, she’ll crank up a good Pandora station Jock Jams, Pop & Hip Hop Power Workout, 2000s Hip Hop – to name a few. Her Nike+ training app keeps her motivated when she runs on her own.

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Pictured League Members: Lauren Hellman, bRUNch 5k committee, Allie Bruening, and Colby Jensen, bRUNch 5k committee.

 

Lauren Hellman might just go crazy if she doesn’t hit the pavement. She takes all her frustrations and stress of the day out on the wide open road. Often she will bring her dog along for company. She uses this time to catch up on her favorite podcasts. When weather forces Lauren to run on a treadmill, she might deviate slightly from the podcasts and opt for some Taylor Swift. “My favorite item to have on a run with me is a great pair for shoes,” she says. Typically she gets her shoes from Altra Running. But she recently picked up a pair from Skora Running. “They may become my new favorite,” Lauren says. 

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Pictured League Members: Lauren Hellman, bRUNch 5k committee, Allie Bruening, and Colby Jensen, bRUNch 5k committee.

No matter what your running style- or even if you’re not a runner- Lauren, Colby, Stacy and Lisa agree that there’s a place for you at the April 16 bRUNch 5K. Families are welcome to bring their kids for a 1K fun walk around Turner Park and if you’re not up for racing, you can purchase a ticket to the after-run brunch. Registration information is now available on jlomaha.org. We can’t wait to see you there!

 

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Growing Up American Girl – Piper’s Story

Piper Zatechka (daughter of League Sustaining Member Jennifer Zatechka) has fond memories of being in the Junior League of Omaha American Girl Fashion Show. For five years, Piper’s family has watched her walk the runway in genuine American Girl clothing while carrying a matching doll from the American Girl collection. In her own words, Piper talks about how much fun she has and how the show helped her build confidence.

 

“American Girl celebrates a girl’s inner star, encouraging her to stand tall, reach high and dream big,” says committee co-chair Alysia Radicia. “During each of eight shows, attendees enjoy learning how clothing for young women has changed over the years to reflect history, culture and girls’ individual styles.”

The show, now in its 24th year, supports the Junior League of Omaha’s child-minded community projects and celebrates the experience of being a girl, yesterday and today, through a colorful presentation of historical and contemporary fashions. Model registration for the 2016 shows is available now through February 1.
Registering online is easy.

Available Shows
Friday, March 4:  7 p.m.
Saturday, March 5:  10 a.m., 1 p.m., and 7 p.m.
Sunday, March 6:  10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Each show runs two hours.

Venue
Field Club of Omaha
3615 Woolworth Avenue, Omaha, Nebraska

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Give Gifts That Give Back

Last month, guest blogger Megan Nelson challenged us to evaluate our holiday priorities and look for opportunities to make a difference. This month we asked our membership to share their ideas on how they make a difference during the holiday season. The response was nothing short of impressive and inspirational. When holiday shopping, consider these gifts that give back.

Hero-Animals-FY16Gift a Goat
“My family has a neat tradition that my mom started several years ago. She would gift us a donation to World Vision. It started with the gift of a goat. This goat was given to a family in a third world country so they could provide food for their family and sell their goats milk for income. Once I entered the business world, my mom gifted me the donation of a micro loan. This micro loan was given to a women for the purpose of starting her own business and the opportunity she needed to rise above her circumstances. Each year, I look forward to this gift and it makes me happy to know that someone else will get a gift as well. This unique gift idea is something that keeps on giving to others and can be customized to fit your loved one’s personality. With over 100 ways to donate, you can give goats and other animals, clean water, education, clothing, medical care, micro loans and more! Visit the World Vision Gift Catalog to find a gift for all of the special people in your life.”
-Submitted by Lakelyn Hogan

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“All Across Africa currently works with more than 3,000 artisans in Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi, paying them for their creations at local market price. The sustainable income helps them send their children to school, feed their families and even set up savings accounts. Among their holiday collection (which also includes jewelry, baskets and kitchen items) are these eye-catching makeup bags.”
-Submitted by Meredith Duling

 

ONEHOPE
This winery donates a portion of their wine and coffee sales to a number of causes, i.e. helping children with autism, donating products to premature babies, and providing clean water.”
-Submitted by Alexandra Stone

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Stone and Cloth
“Each purchase from Stone and Cloth provides 25 hours of classroom learning through the Knock Foundation. Great for career women, mamas, travelers – they sell cool totes, back-packs, cross-body bags. You can place pre-orders for Christmas right now – some items sold out, but others still available. Recently, they did a great collection at Target, which goes to the same cause!”
-Submitted by Alexandra Stone

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Little Market
“Started by Lauren Conrad, Little Market, empowers women artisans to rise above poverty and support their families. They practice fair trade principles and the proceeds help fund the artisans communities through literacy workshops, business training and health programs. Plus the products are fun and functional and some would make great stocking stuffers. So far I’ve only seen and heard great things.”
-Submitted by Megan Thomsen

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MAC Viva Glam Lipstick
“Mac was just rated as one of the best lipsticks on the market today by consumers. One hundred percent of their Viva Glam Lipsticks proceeds goes to the MAC AIDS fund. Great idea for girlfriends or sisters.”
-Submitted by Megan Thomsen

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Amazon Smile
“I love using AmazonSmile, it has the same products/prices as Amazon, but a portion of every purchase will be donated by the AmazonSmile Foundation to a charity of your choosing that has registered with the program. It’s an easy way to support the Junior League.”
-Submitted by Lindsey Bray

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TAGG – Together A Greater Good
“When you download the TAGG app, you can help schools and other non-profits of choice. Download the free smartphone app, use the app when holiday shopping at local participating businesses, and they’ll make a 5% donation back to your organization of choice!”
-Submitted by Veronica Wortman

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